Just as June was a blur, July continued to often cause me to catch my breath to clear my head. It was exciting when Jeannie and Rick came through for a good evening visit and bringing us some of Rick's honey from his Wisconsin hives, and showing the maps that taught me the Mississippi River extends way beyond New Orleans into the Gulf. They left the next morning before we were even out of bed. (I am guessing maybe 4 a.m.) They were eager to reach Louisiana to start the last leg of their goal for Jeannie to ride her bicycle the complete Mississippi River Trail. Earlier this spring they had done Mississippi and crossed over the bridge at Natchez to Vidalia. As her coach, Rick has gallantly and with bated breath watched her ride in Canada and now to the lowest part of the Mississippi River on crowded highways, darkening lonely ones, rough graveled trails, and scary bridges. They have endured hot weather, cold weather, rain, and unkind winds and irritated motorists.
Another night I was coming home down our lane after a late evening helping Katherine, and I saw vehicle lights heading my way. When the lights suddenly swooped around and headed back, I should have guessed Gerry, but he was not known to be anywhere near us. But there he was walking around the end of the garage when I got to the house. (Gerald had texted me Gerry was here, but somehow the text had not gone through.) He gave me a hug and explained he had recruited for two or three days and now he had done his laundry at our house for the next round of recruiting. We had a good visit; and for some reason, I assumed he'd spend the night. But, no, he was back on the road to head to Saint Louis to be there early the next morning for a friend's very serious surgery. Shannon made it, and Gerry continued recruiting.
Since she lives near us, Mary Ellen often drops in and out unexpectedly when she is in the neighborhood on the way to a client or to see someone visiting here or to bring us one of her great meat loafs. When she was expressing a bit of concern about having to climb up to the second floor of an abandoned building in a nearby village, Gerald decided he would go along. He reported her trepidation was well founded in his opinion. Hopefully the new owner is on his way to successfully reclaim the building's usefulness.
When our granddaughter Erin realized her schedule was clear of her travel ball coaching duties and her military husband was called to California for a few days, she headed to Illinois. She had missed seeing some dear ones when she was here in June. She especially regretted not getting to see her friend Candace's twins on their third birthday. She not only had a good visit with us and her other relatives, but this weekend visit she was able to spend catch-up time with Candace. On Sunday afternoon before she left, we were treated too when Candace brought the twins to the farm. Gerald gave them a “fishing” and boating experience. (If I understood it, the adults caught the fish and the Jamison and Mathison caught them with their hands from the bottom of the boat and threw them back in the lake.) I was home from Katherine's when they came inside to holler “Gma Sue Gma Sue!” and want to play and explore the house with me. In our crowded tornado shelter, of course, they immediately found two badminton rackets and headed back upstairs. By the time I got up there, one boy was asking me for his and I could not see it anywhere. Two days later, I saw both neatly placed by their mother on the fireplace mantel out of view. With curly blondish locks, they are absolutely adorable but all boy, and I knew exactly why Candace hid the racquets. It was several more days before I thought to have Gerald get down the diet soda carton that Erin wisely placed on the very top of the kitchen cabinets to solve that problem when they were snacking in the kitchen.
One of my favorite summer visits was from Trent and his friend Rachael from New Jersey. They had first come while I was at Katherine's, so Trent called the next day and made an appointment because he knew I wanted to meet this young woman with the beautiful red hair—my favorite hair color. These two and Brianna have been friends since childhood via some game on the Internet that was safely monitored for kids. They kept in touch through an alumni group or something. A couple of summers ago, Trent was treated to a week in New York City visiting Rachel's parents and grandparents. And now Rachael has experienced farm life in rural Southern Illinois.
Our July visits were completed by Jeannie and Rick's return from their successful mission. We loved hearing their stories and were grateful Jeannie made it safely through New Orleans by going very early during day-break hours. They stayed with us a couple of nights, but Jeannie was still enjoyed her return to riding form, so she had to ride 93 miles to Carbondale and around to get her fix the day in between the night-time visits. With her last summer's cancer delay, we were filled with awe and delight that the Mississippi River journey is complete and that now she is riding Freeport trails with relish until the school year begins and she must return to work. Rick actually started work on Monday with the annual math review that some high school kids elect to take before the formal school year starts.